We talked to three of our alumni – Kaushik, Tanya and Shreyas – currently working at Bain and Company. They share their experience at Insti and fundaes about consulting and Bain in specific. Here are some of the excerpts from their conversation.
1. What exactly is your work as a consultant, and how does a typical day at work look like?
Kaushik: We are staffed on different projects and for various clients in varied industries. Each client has significant problems they want to address, so they hire consultants to help figure out solutions to these problems. These are top-of-mind problems for the most prominent CEOs in the country or sometimes in the world. Individually, we work on specific parts of a problem while the team tries to solve the whole issue. There are different ways of doing it, including talking to experts in the industry, secondary research, financial analysis, etc.
2. What do you feel are the pros of working in consultancy?
Tanya: The biggest one for me is that you get a lot of experience across different industries. When you join as an associate consultant, there is no specific industry that you enter. You do various projects in your first few years across different sectors. It gives you experience across different industries and different types of projects. That is an excellent start, especially for people unsure of what they want to do eventually. It gives you an excellent platform to understand how things work in different industries.
Another pro is in the people that you work with. These are highly talented, intelligent people who are always looking to help you. The mentorship you get working with the top people in the industry helps you grow immensely. It’s a great learning curve from that perspective.
Shreyas: Working across various industries is something you don’t get that often. Also, you work with some of the most brilliant people: building networks and contacts with them will help you wherever you go in your career. Consulting, and Bain in specific, is very focused on your professional development. Consulting firms want you to build yourself to take on more significant responsibilities as you go on. So they are keen on ensuring you develop professionally and you can fill in your supervisor’s shoes in a year or two. The mentorship and coaching you get at consulting firms are great. Bain, in general, has been wonderful to us: during COVID, people have always prioritized that their subordinates should grow professionally.
Kaushik: For me, the primary reason is the people I’m working with and how much they care for me and my happiness. Additionally, consulting gives you a lot of global exposure: I’ve had teammates from Japan working with me, and I work with clients across the US, Ukraine, Japan, and other Southeast Asian countries. Tanya and I went for training in the US. People come from all over the world, so you get to learn from different cultures, different experiences. The third thing is that you get to mentor or supervise someone early in your career as well. In two to three years, you get to have somebody who can supervise, mentor, and learn how to run a team.
3. What do you think of the helpful experiences that one could have in Insti, be it courses or PoRs or internships in general?
Kaushik: It’s just your experiences that you learn from. Everything that you do helps you in some way or the other. If you were to, say, work at Google in a machine learning engineer role, you would probably need to learn Python. But in consulting, there’s no specific core skill you need except for being logical and structured. It’s not very PoR / internship specific. Experiences like PoRs / internships equip you to face different situations. Again, this is only preparing you better to be a consultant, but anybody can get shortlisted.
Shreyas: You should pursue any course or PoR you would like to do in Insti. For most consulting firms, your PoR may just look good on your resume, but your interviewer would be going into the specifics of what you did in your PoR, so if you’re just doing it purely for the sake of it, there is no point in it.
Many people don’t realise that they could go through Insti without a PoR. I know many of my wingmates have gone through Insti without any PoR and turned out just fine. It’s only a matter of what you would like to do in your time at Insti.
Tanya: A lot of the students put a good deal of emphasis on PoRs. The point is to enjoy this Insti life that you have right now. Do what you like to do: if you like what you’re doing, you’ll also put in the effort to do more, which will add to your experience.
4. We have been informed that you are part of Bain’s recruitment team. Could you give us insight into the process of recruiting interns, and what you seek from them in terms of skills?
Kaushik: We had an informal session where people could join and understand what consulting is, what it means for them to be consultants, and ask questions. We also organised a few coffee chats with the Bain leadership to answer any other top-of-mind questions students had. Very recently, we also organised a pre-placement talk to help students understand Bain’s value proposition and help them make a more informed choice. In terms of the selection process going forward, we will have a resume shortlisting process. Afterward, we have a structured buddy program for two to three weeks, where some of Bain’s consultants would be helping them prepare for the interview and understand what it means to solve a case interview. Post these stages is the actual interview.
Tanya: As mentioned earlier, there is no specific skill sets that we look for. Internally within Bain, all of us are evaluated across three different levers – Problem-solving, Client, Team and that is what the students will also be evaluated on. Problem-solving: your analytical rigor and how structured and logical you are.
Client: While the actual relationship-building aspect is not very relevant here, good communication skills is what will be important
Team: your experience working in a team and whether you are a team player.
5. What is the work that an associate consulting intern would be doing in their internship?
Tanya: The team is structured such that you have a partner, a manager, and multiple workstreams. Usually, different people work on smaller parts of a project. Each of those parts of the project is called a workstream. On each workstream, we have one consultant and one associate consultant. This will be the same during the internship as well.
For example, if you’re trying to figure out how to increase revenues for an IT company, there are different ways of doing it. One way is to help them figure out the capabilities they need to build on or the kind of clients they need. The other one could be increasing your price point. The analysis part, or talking to people in the industry to figure out what that number is, comes down to the job of an ACI.
Kaushik: At the highest level, the work you will be doing as an intern is the same that you’ll be doing as an associate consultant on your first day.
6. How does Bain set itself apart from other companies in terms of structure, work, culture, and career progression? How has your perception of Bain changed before and after joining?
Kaushik: Bain started recruiting from IIT Madras for the first time in my batch back in 2018. It seemed like Bain was a company that emphasised a lot about great culture, and we take care of our people and all of that, but we never know until you’re there. I’ve been working for one and a half years now and have found people who really care for me. I actually quit Bain in between and re-joined mainly because of the people and the work culture.
Of course, the work is great: you work across different industries, sectors, and global opportunities. Early in your career at Bain, you have a lot of global opportunities. We also underwent a global training program in the US. We had senior Bainies coach us on various aspects of the consulting toolkit. The amount of focus Bain gives to your professional development is great.
Tanya: Having worked for two years now at Bain, I can vouch for everything that you would hear as an outsider, be it people, culture, or anything else: it’s been a very great experience.
7. How has been your work experience at Bain? Has COVID affected your work or work culture?
Tanya: I don’t think it affected us much. Bain equipped us with the tools that we needed to perform our work. Everyone in our team is aware that it does get slightly difficult because of the virtual setting: it’s easier to talk to your supervisor, team, or manager when they are right in front of you. But my supervisors have put in extra effort to get me that comfort to perform my job, so it hasn’t been much different. Even on the cultural side, everyone puts a lot of effort to keep the fun going. Last year, we did a virtual offsite that stretched across three days with versatile, office-wide, events to get to know the new ACs better and make them comfortable. And, of course, events within your case team.
8. What is the one piece of advice you would give to a student considering consulting and otherwise?
Kaushik: All this is a portion of your life, but it’s not your life. Take every piece of advice with a pinch of salt. You need to realise what is right for you rather than act on all the fundaes you get. Also, don’t be tense at all. Consulting is not rocket science; we have done more challenging problems in our coursework. And of course, you will need to build a lot of communication skills, managerial skills and such, which you will learn on the job. In Insti, explore different things and learn from them.
Tanya: Do not stress out at all. When it gets challenging, take a deep breath, take a break, do something that makes you happy and then get back to work. It’s always good to take a step back and do what’s important for you. Do talk to different people: it’s essential to get as many opinions and experiences that you can gather. But as Kaushik said, implement the advice that works best for YOU. What worked for the other person may not work for you. And above all, enjoy the process; it can actually be fun.
Kaushik GV, Graduated in 2019, Chemical Engineering
Tanya Agrawal, Graduated in 2019, Chemical Engineering
Shreyas Bharghav, Graduated in 2020, Civil Engineering
Written by Khadyot